Scientists restore vision in blind mice using gold and titanium nanowire arrays
A new study from scientists in China suggests that medical devices could one day restore vision to the blind.
A team of scientists in China just took a big step toward developing technology that could one day restore vision to the blind.
Researchers at Fudan University and the University of Science and Technology of China recently published a paper in the journal Nature Communications that outlines how they used artificial photoreceptors to restore vision to blind mice.
Photoreceptors are structures that translate light into neural signals for the brain. They’re able to do this because they contain chemicals that change when hit with photons, which produces an electrical signal that’s sent to the brain along the optic nerve.
For the study, the team genetically engineered a group of mice to develop progressively degraded photoreceptors, similar to eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration in humans. This left the mice’s eyes and visual processing systems intact but rendered visual signals unable to reach the brain.
This illustration from the paper shows, from left to right, an eye, a retina with healthy photoreceptors, and a retina with a nanowire array.
Researchers then replaced the degraded photoreceptors with artificial ones made from tiny nanowire that was “decorated” with gold nanoparticles. This material was chosen by researchers because of its “high surface areas, large charge transport mobility, excellent biocompatibility and stability.”
Like natural photoreceptors, these nanowire arrays were placed in physical contact with retinal cells and were able to transport electrical impulses to the visual cortex. The team verified this by measuring activity in the mice’s visual cortexes after shining light onto their eyes, and by observing dilation in their pupils.
Compared to mice in the control group, the once-blind mice were able to respond to light of similar intensity, though their artificial photoreceptors could only sense green, blue and light near ultraviolet spectrum. Of course, it’s impossible to say for sure what the mice were seeing.
The technique used in the study was experimental, and even if it’s proven to be safe and effective for humans, it’ll take years before it’s available to the wider public. Still, the results suggest hope for the idea that medical devices may one day restore vision to people for whom it’s slipped away.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.
- Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
- The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
- Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.